In our Homework series, we explore the lives of ordinary kids with not-so-ordinary hobbies. Between school work and swimming lessons, these youngsters are also running successful businesses—(sometimes) with a bit of grown-up help.
Meet Sophia. She’s a big sister, book lover, and one pretty bright kid. At 5, she approached her dad about starting her own business, just like him. The result—a hook-and-loop product called FunCro that holds your phone in place—was the first of several of her inventions to come. Because of her experiences, the now 11-year-old is dedicating her free time between school and swimming to speaking about entrepreneurship. She was even invited to present at a UN conference.
When Sophia’s not traveling the world, the grade-schooler immerses herself in all things science and tech. She’s now working on her latest invention—an air quality device—and in her downtime, she’s devouring Stargate and science docs. She hopes her enthusiasm helps other girls her age develop their own interest in STEM.
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Name: Sophia Fairweather
My business: Startup by Sophia
Where I live: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The thing I like most about myself:
I like the fact that I can draw pretty well.
A typical day for me:
I wake up, I check social media, I go to school. My dad, because I’m not allowed electronics at school, he’ll check over emails and stuff, and then when I get picked up, he’ll show me Twitter so I’m caught up. And then when I get home, I do a tweet of what I learned today, and then, of course, I’ll play with my brother and do stuff like that.
What I do for fun:
I really like swimming. I like drawing. I like playing with friends. I like going on my phone and stuff. I like playing with my brother.
TV shows I like:
My family finds this really weird, but it’s Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. They’re pretty old shows, but I really like them. I really like documentary discovery. It’s kind of like a genre of shows, and it just talks about the science behind things and the latest technology and stuff.
My favorite books:
I actually have a book about Marie Curie, and I’ve read it about 5,000 times. And it’s about her life and her accomplishments. It’s quite dramatic and interesting. Also, Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables.
About my business and how I got started:
What I came up with was something that would hold your phone using a hook and loop. I really wanted to come up with a product, and I go to an art school, so I kind of wanted it to be artsy. So I told my dad this and he said, “Well, find a problem and then fix it,” and “Find something ugly and make it pretty.” And I found Velcro, and it was ugly and prickly because it’s usually just one color.
How I felt starting a business at 5 years old:
Kind of nervous. It was all new to me, and I didn’t think I could actually do it. But with help from my dad and other people, I did make it through and now I’m here.
Something I’m most proud of is:
That I’m writing a briefing note. What it is is talking about creating a liaison between schools and economic development people to create an organization or a program that would help and support youth and young entrepreneurs and also allow them access to grants. Because right now, I don’t have any access to grant money and neither does anyone under the age of 18.
The best part about being an entrepreneur is:
Meeting new people. I like presenting, I like traveling. Sometimes I find it stressful and tiring, but it’s kind of cool to travel. Oh, also bragging to my brother. I love that.
The best place I’ve traveled was:
Toronto to go to a UN conference when I was 7. That was cool. Yeah, I think that was my favorite.
What I want to be when I grow up:
I don’t know if I’ll always be an entrepreneur. I hope I am. But if I’m not, I definitely still want to be in the math and science field or the STEM field, which is science, technology, engineering, and math. So I kind of want to be in that kind of thing because I really like it.
Who inspires me:
I really look up to Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace. I really like how they’re so interested in science and math. Right now there is a girl named Carrie that I met on Twitter, and she’s 14 and she already has a job with Google, actually, and she does technology and just works with them.
How I inspire other girls my age:
I have a few quotes that are kind of cool. Like, “Innovation doesn’t discriminate.” I read that at the age of 7. Because you start getting some self-awareness, you start realizing if you’re interested in math and science. Many other girls aren’t, or they’re just hiding it. So you think that it’s super weird that you’re interested in it, so you’re kind of like, “Okay, this is weird. I shouldn’t be interested in this.”
And then you go and focus your interest on something else. Like, for instance, I go to an art school, and I’m pretty sure that there are some girls in my class that are really interested in science and math—they just don’t see anyone else that’s really interested in it except me and, like, two other girls.Illustrations by João Fazenda